Vasectomy Haiti: Returning Home With A Lot To Think About…
December 10, 2015
We were greeted by a throng of men at the airport who were wearing red shirts. They looked like employees but they were insisting on carrying my bags inside. They grabbed my bags despite my objections. I did not have much luggage to carry and I would have preferred I carry my own bags.
As soon as we were at the front counter they were anxious for tips. I refused because they gave me no choice in the decision. They had snatched my one and only small bag and carried it literally 20 steps to the front check in desk. I was not going to tip them for forced service.
Not many people go to Haiti and, as a result, not many leave… so the check-in line was a short. I was the first person at the desk. I got my ticket and cleared customs within 10 minutes. Our plane was late so we sat down in the airport restaurant, ordered sodas and meat pies, and entered the remaining data on our vasectomy procedures into our mission database. Eventually the plane arrived, we loaded , and took off for Miami.
Our Haiti vasectomy mission trip had been a very quick trip. We were only in Haiti Wednesday through Saturday but it seemed like a month. As a first time visitor, I was fairly traumatized by seeing the quality of living conditions and the amount of ecological devastation which existed. Our trip was so packed with events, there was so much to do, and so little time to think about it all.
I was looking forward to a long flight so I could close my eyes, lay back, and contemplate the totality of what had occurred over the previous three days.
My misfortune: Sitting next to a very talkative passenger
Unfortunately I had the extreme misfortune of being seated immediately next to a very chatty woman… extremely chatty. There was not a spare seat for me to move to anywhere on the plane. There would be no time for introverted contemplation.
Most of my vasectomy work days are spent helping people get through anxiety provoking surgical procedures. Most of my day is spent making small talk and helping them to get through stressful and difficult situations (vasectomy). When I go home, I am usually not a very talkative person. I am even less talkative in public. Unfortunately this woman would not have any of this.
When she sat next to me I could immediately tell she was a ‘talker’. I told myself, “Don’t make eye contact, don’t ask her anything, and don’t look her way.” I kept to my plan but she eventually had her way with me. She asked me some innocent question just before the plane took off and then I was trapped.
Our resultant conversation did not stop until the plane landed and we cleared US customs and it was not because I was eager to keep the conversation going.
Most visitors to Haiti’s have little understanding of the depth of the island’s problems
She was a ‘Weeker’: a missionary who gave up her life for one week to help the poor little orphans of Haiti. Previously I explained how donations and missionary work are Haiti’s leading sources of income. I also explained how Haiti was Disney World for Christian Missionaries. Missionaries sorted themselves out into one of two groups: those who made it their life’s work and those who made it their week long vacation, did the mission, and got the t-shirt types. Hence this woman revealed herself to be a ‘Weeker.’
This Weeker was a stay at home mom who left her husband and older children at home to travel (for a week) to Haiti with her two daughters to show them how fortunate they were. Through her church, she arranged to work at an orphanage for one week. Her first statement about her experience was how ‘blessed’ she was to be able to stay at the orphanage. Every other sentence contained the word ‘blessed’.
It seems all she did was stay at the orphanage and entertain the children for one week. Otherwise I really could not understand what she and her two daughters did during their week’s stay. She told me about all the children who did not have parents, how cute they were, and how ‘blessed’ these orphans were compared to other Haitian kids. She told me all the pertinent stories she could remember. She even whipped out the latest I-phone phone model and showed me videos she took of the orhpans doing some National Geographic tribal-like dance for her and explained to me how ‘blessed’ she was to have taken this video.
She went on to explain to me how she was not rich, her husband was a minister, and she was just ‘blessed’. She then told me she home schooled her children and then I understood a lot more about her.
People who home school are just a little bit…different. I put them in the same category as people with AOL email accounts. They are just different!
Homeschoolers are a little like Preppers…those people who prepare for the end of civilization as we know it because of some disaster they predict will end the civilized world. Homeschoolers are just a little less rednecky than Preppers.
I asked her what she was going to do when she returned home. She then explained again how ‘blessed’ she was but that she was immediately going to the French embassy in San Francisco to apply for a six month visa because she and her two daughters were going to France to live for six months to learn French. She told me she had done the same when she was younger, she felt blessed because of this experience, and she wanted her daughters to have the same blessed experience.
The condescending ass in me thought, why don’t you just stay in Haiti for six additional months, continue to help the orphans, and you could homeschool your children there? They do speak French in Haiti, at least a version of it, so you could learn French and also continue to help the orphans.
You could get more blessed points, and perhaps, even level up in your blessedness. I guess that was not a ‘blessed’ enough plan…or at least not as fun as France would be.
I was not really in the mood to be having this conversation but she insisted on continuing with our meaningless chit-chat. We have all been cursed at some point in our lives having to sit next to a very talkative person for a very long time.
All I wanted to do was sit there and have introspective thoughts about my experience in Haiti. I was not in the mood to hear about how ‘blessed’ someone thought they were.
I think I can put it in perfect perspective. Imagine you have just witnessed a horrific accident. You have seen a family die in front of your eyes in a car crash. The mother and father were thrown through the front window and the children were decapitated. Now imagine you gave your report to the police and are returning home on the public bus. Now imagine someone wants to sit next to you and tell you about their life and how blessed everything is about their life. Now you can better understand what I was going through at that moment in time.
Why don’t they have garbage service in Haiti? If you don’t know the answer…
At one point during our two hour non-stop conversation, I had a glimmer of hope because it seemed like we were having a meaningful discussion about Haiti. We discussed, among other things, the garbage that was ever present and lying all over the place.
Towards the end of our conversation she asked me, “Why don’t they have like a garbage service or something in Haiti?”
It was at this point I realized despair…this woman’s entire week was a waste of time. Her trip was only to check the missionary blessing box and to then move on to the next item in her long bucket list of activities. Did she not take anything away from what we both saw in Haiti?
Although a seemingly innocent question, her question reflected how little she understood about Haiti and the developing world in general.
To have a garbage service you need a few things: a functioning government, resources to pick up, transport, and process garbage, and citizens with money to pay for these services. Haiti had none of this…and where do you even start?
A simple question has a simple answer but a complex pathway in a country as devastated as is Haiti.
I really could not respond to her and thankfully the stewardess announced, “All tray tables should be in the upright position. We are cleared for landing in Miami.” I was relieved I did not have to continue our meaningless conversation.
Welcome back to the United States!
We landed in Miami and it was a great relief to be back in the United States.
Customs was a zoo…but a more controlled zoo than what I had been through in Haiti.
As I passed the last customs control gate a uniformed Customs Officer plainly looked at me and told me as I walked passed him, “Welcome back to the United States of America, sir.”
I wanted to drop to me knees and cry. These were the most precious words I had heard in a very long time. It was good to be back home.
Support no scalpel vasectomy
Dr. Monteith is the Medical Director of A Personal Choice, which is located in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Dr. Monteith provides vasectomy and vasectomy reversal to men in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
His first article in this series about vasectomy in Haiti is Vasectomy Haiti: No Reservations
Persons interested in supporting vasectomy in the developing world can do so through the NSVI website: No Scalpel Vasectomy International.
For $45 a you can provide a no scalpel vasectomy to a man in the developing world. This single vasectomy procedure will allow him to better provide for his children and family and will help increase awareness of the safety of vasectomy in countries that stand to benefit the most from the devastating impact of over-population.